Peanut butter is a popular and versatile spread.

This nutritious food is often enjoyed in smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods like mug cakes or added to crackers and fruits for a snack or light meal.

Despite its popularity, there are reports that peanut butter may cause constipation in some people.

While peanut butter is likelier to relieve constipation rather than cause it, the type of peanut butter — and the amount of fiber it contains — may be important.

This article addresses whether peanut butter causes constipation and offers some solutions.

Peanut butter up close.Share on Pinterest
SKC/Stocksy United

Constipation is a common occurrence, affecting between 10 and 20% of adults worldwide each year (1, 2).

It causes infrequent bowel movements, straining, passing of hard or marble-like feces, and feelings of incomplete bowel movements. These look like types 1-2 on the Bristol stool chart (1, 2).

Peanuts and peanut butter are rich in soluble and insoluble dietary fibers, both of which help support regular bowel movements and improve constipation (3, 4).

Just two tablespoons (32 grams) of natural peanut butter contains 3 grams of fiber, equivalent to about 10% of your daily fiber needs (5, 6).

A low fiber diet often causes constipation, so peanut butter is an unlikely cause. Instead, peanut butter that’s adequate in fiber may help prevent or even relieve constipation (7).

Summary

Peanut butter is high in fiber, so it’s more likely to help relieve — rather than cause — constipation.

Although peanut butter itself may not cause constipation, there are other reasons why someone may become constipated when peanut butter is a regular part of their diet:

Lack of dietary fiber

A low fiber diet is associated with constipation in adults and children.

When it comes to peanut butter, not all varieties are equal. Some popular but highly processed peanut butter varieties may contain less fiber and more added sugars and hydrogenated oils than 100% peanut butter.

For instance, 2 tablespoons (32 grams) of a classic peanut butter spread provides just 1.5 grams of fiber compared to 3 grams in another all-natural peanut butter (5, 8).

Even some ‘natural’ peanut butter varieties have added ingredients and may not contain much fiber per serving.

Increasing fiber intake through whole grains, fruits, legumes, and nuts is one of the first-line treatment options for chronic constipation (7, 9).

Therefore, it’s best to choose high fiber peanut butter over highly processed varieties. Look for brands that only include peanuts in their ingredients.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that adults eat 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories — or 25 and 38 grams per day for women and men, respectively, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes that over 90% of adults don’t meet daily fiber needs (10, 11).

It’s always best to read the nutrient label to ensure your peanut butter contains enough fiber.

Inadequate water intake

Water plays an important role in stool production.

Studies have shown a link between low fluid intake and constipation in children (12, 13).

Thus, just like a low fiber diet can cause constipation, a high fiber diet that includes peanut butter — without adequate fluid intake — can cause the same.

Although specific water recommendations vary based on several factors like temperature, physical activity, and diet, recommended intakes often range between 8.5-11.5 cups (2–2.7 liters) per day for women and 10.5-15.5 cups (2.5–3.7 liters) per day for men (14).

Peanut intolerance

Peanuts are common allergenic food. However, not everyone with a peanut allergy has an anaphylactic reaction, and some may have more of an intolerance.

A food allergy causes an immune response that may be life threatening, while a food intolerance may cause general but mild digestive symptoms without triggering an immune response (15).

Thus, someone with a peanut intolerance may experience nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, or constipation. Some research even shows that symptoms of a peanut allergy may show up an hour after consumption (16).

Summary

Lack of dietary fiber and fluid intake, along with peanut intolerance may cause constipation in people consuming peanut butter as a regular part of their diet.

If you feel like peanut butter contributes to constipation, the simplest solution might be to try a different peanut butter brand.

Aim for a natural one that contains only peanuts and salt, and doesn’t have food additives listed.

Food additives in some peanut butter brands may negatively impact gut health, potentially contributing to constipation (17).

However, if you have a peanut allergy or intolerance, you can also replace peanut butter with other types of nut butter, such as or cashew butter.

Here is a breakdown of the fiber content in 2 tablespoons (32 grams) of a few types of nut butter (5, 18, 19):

  • Almond butter: 3.3 grams
  • Cashew butter: 0.6 grams
  • Peanut butter: 3.0 grams

Keep in mind that peanut butter is only a small part of your fiber intake. Be sure to eat various whole foods during the day and drink water when you’re thirsty.

Summary

Replace highly processed peanut butter varieties with natural peanut butter or with other types like almond or cashew butter.

Peanut butter is a high fiber food that is an unlikely cause of constipation for most people.

Rather, the cause of constipation is likely to be inadequate daily fiber and fluid intake. Some people may also have a peanut intolerance that may cause constipation when consuming peanut butter as a regular part of the diet.

If you feel like peanut butter contributes to constipation, try opting for more natural peanut butter varieties that are higher in fiber, or use almond or cashew butter if you have a peanut intolerance.

Just one thing

Try this today: Stuff 3 pitted prunes with 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter for a high fiber snack.